Jennifer Salzman: Alcohol addiction & ADHD coping strategiesJun 05, 2023
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Episode 140 with Jennifer Salzman.
“The alcohol never really helped. It just dulled everything. Not only was I dulling the anxiety and the stress, but I was also dulling the joy and the happiness.”
When Jennifer was diagnosed with adult ADHD in her 40s she realized that she had spent more than 20 years self-medicating her symptoms with alcohol. Drinking was the easiest and fastest way to shut off the constant chatter in her brain. She also discovered that alcohol abuse among people with ADHD is much more common than it is in people without the condition.
Jennifer now coaches others to help them find freedom from alcohol, gain a new outlook on life, and improve their relationship with themselves and their neurodivergent brains.
We talk about our own experiences with alcohol abuse, the link between ADHD and substance abuse, the dangers of mixing alcohol with stimulant medications, why AA isn’t always neurodivergent-friendly, and some of the ways we can develop healthier coping mechanisms for managing ADHD.
Katy Weber She Her (00:00.675)
Thank you for joining me, Jennifer!
I'm so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Katy Weber She Her (00:07.068)
Um, all right, well, let's get started. I really want to hear about your diagnosis story. How long ago was it? You were 41, right? Um, and, and so what was happening in your own life that you started to put those. Yeah. When, what was happening that you started to put two and two together and think, okay, this should, this is, uh, this, I should really look into this.
I was diagnosed, yeah.
So I was diagnosed in 2014 and there was no two and two putting together. I didn't know what ADHD was. I had no curiosity about it. I was actually seeing a psychiatrist who was treating me for depression. And in our sessions, I kept talking about... I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2014.
my ADHD symptoms, not knowing that that's what it was. I couldn't focus, I couldn't get my work done, I was so emotionally triggered, I was anxious 24 seven, I couldn't sleep. I mean, you name it, I went through, and he's the one that suggested it to me. And he said, have you ever been assessed for ADHD? And then I was actually offended. I said, great, another mental health issue now that I need to deal with. And you know, so he gave me the formal assessment
And then I'm off the charts, ADHD, and that's how it happened. So on one hand, it was kind of an aha moment where I said, oh, there's an explanation for
all of this stuff that I've been struggling with for my entire life. And on the other hand, I was like, you know, now what am I supposed to do? So that's sort of how it started. And there was no treatment plan. That's another thing. Like he just basically said, you have ADHD, here's a prescription for Adderall. Come back in three months. And just kind of left me hanging. So that's how it started.
Katy Weber She Her (01:58.199)
Uh, right. I know. Um, it's so funny. I was totally offended when my therapist brought it up with me too. Cause I was like, what do you think of me? Right. Uh, that you would think, cause I had such misconceptions about what it was. I had no idea. Right. So I was like immediately thought of somebody who was a total mess, which I mean, I guess in some ways I was, but in many ways I wasn't right. And so I think, yeah. Um, and, and, you know, that idea that like, well, you know, just
Katy Weber She Her (02:28.323)
getting medication that it's going to fix everything I think is a real detriment for many of us. But still pretty impressive that a clinician in 2014 would have recognized that in you.
Yeah, well it's interesting. So, you know, saying that you're a mess, I mean, I was such a professional masquer that I was a mess internally. I was a mess, but it didn't appear that way. In fact, people have often still say to me like, you're so calm.
And I'm thinking, I'm so calm. Like that is, I do not feel calm in the least. So it's just funny how we're able to mask these symptoms just to fit into this neuro-typical world that we feel like we're supposed to behave in certain ways. And then once you realize like you have ADHD, you understand that, oh, I am a little bit different. There's a reason why I feel a little bit different. Because I am.
Katy Weber She Her (03:31.019)
Mm hmm. Yeah. Um, right. And I think that was a, you know, another tip off to my therapist who thankfully knew about ADHD. She herself was diagnosed, so she knew about it. But you know, I, one of the themes that I always had when I was talking to my therapist was like, I would
Katy Weber She Her (03:46.703)
constantly complain about what like a lazy piece of shit I was. And she was like, what are you talking about? You've written a book. You've started like three businesses since we've been meeting together, right? Like she was always sort of listing all of these accomplishments to the contrary. And I think it was that, it was that
Katy Weber She Her (04:02.707)
You know, the, the conflict between who you are to other people versus who you are to yourself and how that divide between those two, um, personalities is so great. That should, should be a tip off to clinicians.
Exactly, exactly. And, you know, I... One of the questions that you had asked me is like one of the things that I love about my ADHD, and the fact that we're able, we're so smart, and we're able to do so many things, it's not a lack of focus, it's like we pay too much attention to everything.
Katy Weber She Her (04:35.799)
Katy Weber She Her (04:45.991)
I know, right? It's, it's, it's all about regulation, but that's not in the name. Uh, so now when you were diagnosed back then, what, you know, going over your life in this, with this new lens, um, can be so overwhelming. What were some of the things that you looked back at over your life where you were like, Oh, the signs were clearly there all along.
I mean, everything. I think that I always felt like I was different. Like I just, I never fit in and I didn't know why. And I just, you know, I don't know if other people saw me that way, but I just, I always felt like I never quite fit in. I didn't know how to make friends. I didn't know how to keep friends. I was pretty smart, but like I never could.
Katy Weber She Her (05:13.176)
study or do my homework. You know, in college, I remember I had a boyfriend in college who always used to laugh at me because I'd have a paper due that I knew about for months and months. And then like 48 hours before the paper is due, I'm doing pulling it all night or sitting at my little word processor. That ages me, but sitting at my little word processor writing my paper that I had two months to complete. And you know, I managed to get it done.
Katy Weber She Her (05:59.759)
But it was always like the urgency and the chaos and the last minute. And I mean, just so easily triggered emotionally and like, you know, growing up, I was always told that I'm so sensitive and, you know, I blow up so easily and just, you know, pretty much everything, every aspect of my personality, I realize now is probably an ADHD trait.
Katy Weber She Her (06:37.675)
Right. You know, and that's one of the things that always bothers me when people say like, oh, everybody's diagnosing themselves based on a single TikTok video or a single Instagram video. And, you know, all of these people would just think, oh, I forget my keys and so I must have ADHD. And I'm like, I have yet to meet a single person who didn't sort of go through their...
Katy Weber She Her (07:00.175)
entire life of this inventory of all of these behaviors that they have struggled with seemingly, you know, unrelated to each other throughout their, you know, from, from as long as they can remember that are tied back to ADHD in this profound, overwhelming way. And it's like, I have yet to meet a woman who was ADHD, who was diagnosed, who was like, oh yeah, I just have like this one thing I relate to, right? Like it's, it absolutely take it, it's connected to your whole life. It's connected to everything.
Absolutely, it'll it just everything started to make sense for better or for worse everything started to make sense once I got that diagnosis and You know, I've said this before like people who don't have ADHD people who don't struggle with some of these things They don't wonder about it. They don't think oh, well, maybe I have ADHD, you know They use they say it in passing like oh that was so ADHD of me, but they don't like actually think about it the way
We do, so.
Katy Weber She Her (08:02.131)
Yeah, good point. Good point. In fact, I think if somebody does comment in a flip way about how ADHD that was of me, that's a pretty good sign. Maybe they aren't dealing with a lot of the, you know, real side effects and shame and all of that. Yeah. Okay, so let's, so I want to get pretty vulnerable with you for this episode, because we're going to be talking about alcohol and alcohol abuse and ADHD, which is something I myself certainly
That's a sign.
Katy Weber She Her (08:32.311)
have a long sorted history with. I know many of us do. I started binge drinking at the age of 14. And really, you know, I felt like when I was diagnosed, it's explained so much about my relationship with just substance abuse in general, right? But how many of us use alcohol to self-medicate? So I'm curious, what was your...
Katy Weber She Her (09:00.991)
I guess some of your history with alcohol or, or, you know, I know, were you sober before you were diagnosed? What's the timeline there?
No. So similar to your story, I mean, starting, I think I was 16 when I started drinking. And as I was saying before, like as, like always feeling kind of different and like I didn't fit in. And as soon as I discovered alcohol, it made me forget that stuff.
You know, I felt like, oh, I can fit in. I can go to parties. I can talk to people. I didn't have like the constant negative chatter in my brain telling me I'm lazy, I'm crazy, I'm stupid, I'm weird, I'm all this stuff. And so that was like the magic elixir that stayed with me until my late 40s. So, you know, and I never really, I didn't realize that I was, what I was using it for until I stopped doing it.
before I stopped drinking. So I mean that caused so many other problems because like I said when I got out of the doctor's office and he gave me this Adderall script and I was drinking pretty heavily it was a very dangerous and explosive and chaotic combination that caused a lot of problems in my life which then led to me having to address
the alcohol issue, never putting the two together. I didn't realize that they were related in any way until I stopped drinking. But looking back, I mean, yeah, I was self-medicating. And it just got to a point where, I mean, if you use alcohol long enough and enough of it, nobody is immune to becoming addicted to it. And it really had become...
Katy Weber She Her (10:29.08)
too important in my life. And that's when I just woke up one day and I said, you know, I need to do something about this. And that's when I sort of went on this journey of learning more about my ADHD and discovered healthier ways to cope because I knew that alcohol was no longer gonna be a part of my life.
Katy Weber She Her (11:16.311)
Mm hmm. Yeah. You know, it's funny. I know when you were talking about the combination of alcohol and Adderall, I don't know much about that. It doesn't sound like it's very healthy, but do you, do you know anything official about, you know, mixing the two? Cause I know there, I've read a lot about like mixing cannabis and, and stimulants can be really difficult, you know, can be really problematic, but is there, do you know anything off the top of your head about, um, alcohol or Adderall or what was your experience?
Well, so, Adderall is a stimulant, alcohol is a depressant, and at least for me, I didn't feel the effects of the alcohol the same way I did when I wasn't taking Adderall. So I could drink a lot.
And I might have been behaving like I was drunk, but I didn't feel it. So until I was so many drinks in that I was out of my mind and passing out. And, you know, it was like at a dangerous level. But, you know, I would keep drinking because I didn't I didn't feel drunk. So I'm like, I can have another one. So, you know, I'm not sure about the science behind it, other than the fact that, you know, I do believe that the Adderall sort of.
changes the effects of the alcohol so you don't feel it.
until it's too late.
Katy Weber She Her (12:34.359)
Hmm, interesting. Yeah, I mean, I.
Katy Weber She Her (12:37.447)
One of the things, because I feel like the two reasons I drank were the two major reasons why I drank throughout my life were we're socializing right like you were talking about, you know, it took away my social anxiety, it took away my overthinking in social situations, it was a social lubricant in a way that I think it is for a lot of neurodivergence who have difficulty, you know, in groups or in group settings or parties and stuff like that right so it's like it brought out the lampshade drunk and that I always appreciate.
Katy Weber She Her (13:07.461)
But then I feel like there was like also the ways in which I would use it to regulate at the end of the day, right? Like I would use alcohol to shut my brain down and quiet my racing thoughts and which I feel like is a very different use in terms of self-medicating. Um, I don't remember what my question was now. I think it was like, um, I haven't been able to, I've been able to figure out ways to
Katy Weber She Her (13:35.887)
deal with the overwhelm at the end of the day. And in terms of self regulation, but I haven't figured out how to socialize without alcohol. And I'm, so I'm curious if like, what are the ways that you as a neurodivergent person have been able to, I don't know, have you been able to figure that out? Or do you just, you know, are you, you're less prone to putting yourself in those situations that bring a lot of anxiety or what I need tips.
Yeah. Well, my lifestyle has changed. I mean, I don't go out to bars. I just don't. I don't enjoy it. And if I'm meeting people, you know, I'll stay and after they've had their second drink.
Katy Weber She Her (14:05.472)
I'm out. I'm not interested in... It's less about me being socially anxious and more about me not wanting to be around people that are having a lot of alcohol in their system because I just... they're not listening, they're not... you know, they change and you know, I make my appearance and I actually realize that I'm a lot less weird and socially anxious than I thought.
You know, I'm like, I'm able to carry on a conversation. And it's, I think the alcohol made me weirder. It made me feel like I was less anxious, but it didn't, you know, maybe because I'm a grownup now and I'm able to talk to people, I care much less about the way that I'm perceived than I used to. And I think, you know, in this journey of learning to unmask and to be my authentic self, I'm much less concerned about.
how I appear to others and that's what's made some of the anxiety go away. I also do like, I don't know if you're familiar with tapping meditation, but like before I go anywhere or do anything where I'm going to be around other people, I tap. And that has been my saving grace. I mean it calms my nervous system and I just, you know, say to myself like, everybody's socially awkward, you know? And the alcohol never really helped. It just allowed me to forget.
and it just dulled everything and numbed everything. And what I have noticed since I quit drinking is that because I'm no longer dulling my senses in that way, like not only was I dulling the anxiety and the stress, I was dulling the joy and the happiness. And so I think now I feel that joy and that happiness just.
just for being alive. I mean, it sounds corny, but just, you know, being in sort of awe of the world around me and realizing like there's so much to learn about other people. And so now, like, I'll go with a plan. Like I have questions prepared that I can ask people. And I, it takes a lot of that anxiety away, I think. And then I just leave if I'm uncomfortable and I'm okay with doing that also.
Katy Weber She Her (16:23.863)
Yeah. No, that's a really good point. I feel like, I feel like a diagnosis. I don't know if it's diagnosis or like you said, it's just getting older, but in terms of like you, we become better at boundaries and what we're willing and able to put up with too. So yeah, but the way I socialize has changed a lot. I was thinking about a wedding I went to last summer where I was the only wedding I went to all summer and, um, and I was, it was the first time I had been at a wedding since being sober. And.
Katy Weber She Her (16:53.523)
Um, it was miserable. Everybody was everybody because everybody was getting drunk around me and I didn't want to be around them and I didn't want to listen to them. Um, and I was just like, okay, I'm done here and left. And I felt sort of, you know, there was some freedom in that to just be like, Oh, I can just leave now. Um, in terms of those boundaries, but also feeling like, like I was getting away with something, right? Uh, that I, that were, you know,
Thanks for watching!
Katy Weber She Her (17:21.859)
I should have stayed or should have done something else. So, uh, but I think that there is, it's true. Like you said, like as we, as we get more comfortable in what we want, right. And, you know, um, in terms of boundaries, like what is going to, why am I here? Why don't I just leave? You know, it becomes a lot easier to make those choices for ourselves. And, and I do spend a lot more time at home with my family. Um, especially since the, since lockdown, I think, um, a lot of us decided.
Katy Weber She Her (17:51.191)
We wanted to socialize a lot less after the pandemic, because it was so, you know, it was so much, it's so dysregulating to be out in those environments.
Exactly. I mean, again, I don't know if it's age, I don't know if it's not drinking anymore, I don't know what it is, but I like hanging out at home. I enjoy it more sometimes than having to get up and go out and be social. And you know, when I...
I work with clients who are trying to change their relationship with alcohol and one of the things that I always advise them on is when you are going out, you must be prepared. You have to have an exit plan. You have to have a buddy to call if you're feeling uncomfortable. You have to have a drink order prepared that is non-alcoholic so that it's never awkward. So as long as you're prepared when you're in these situations, they tend to be less anxious about it.
Katy Weber She Her (18:53.443)
Yeah, that's a good point. And I think that's especially helpful when you do have ADHD that, you know, the way in which many of us can get quickly overwhelmed in situations like that. So it's like, how can I take care of myself? Right? Like I think, I don't know about you, but like, if I'm going to a new restaurant, I have to look at the menu and their website and I have to like, look where it is on a map and like, you try to like mitigate all of the overwhelm as much as possible by knowing all the things ahead of time. Um,
Katy Weber She Her (19:19.443)
Yeah. So now when you, so working with, right. Working with clients and, oh, and then my other question before I want to ask you about your, um, about your coaching, I'm curious, like what, how have you been able to regulate yourself at the end of the day? Cause that's another big one, I think for a lot of us, which is I just want to turn my brain off.
Yeah, so I moved, so I lived in New York City for many years and I left because just living there was over over stimulating and it was also very triggering because that's where I did a lot of my
Katy Weber She Her (19:49.303)
drinking. So now I live like in the country. I live near the water. So for me, regardless of the weather, it can be, you know, I'm in upstate New York, it can be very cold or very hot. I take a walk on the water and I just sit and I look at the water. I live on a lake and five minutes of doing that completely transforms the way I feel.
without question. I mean, whenever I am feeling that overwhelm and I want to, I start to get almost violent, like I want to.
do something, you know, that I would probably regret. I take a walk outside and I look at the water and I have actually walking meditations that I listen to because it's hard, as you know, with ADHD to sit still and to meditate. And when, you know, when a lot of people with ADHD hear that word, they get anxious just hearing the word meditation. So I do walking meditation. It's like a guided meditation. And they just tell you to pay attention to your feet.
and your legs and your body while you're moving. And it's 10 minutes and it, yeah, it never fails to change my mood, change the way I'm feeling.
Katy Weber She Her (21:13.579)
Um, that's beautiful. I totally do the same thing. And I feel like there's been a lot of interesting information online about, um, walking therapy and ADHD and trauma and just the, the way in which walking does something similar to EMDR therapy, where it's like it can, you know, it's kind of connects the right brain and the left brain in the same way that EMDR does, and there's something about the visual stimuli and
Katy Weber She Her (21:40.043)
Um, I think walking is like, I think there's such a science to walking for ADHD. It's not just raising your heartbeat and the exercise and all of that too. Like, I think it really is just even that, like you said, like that intentional one step after a time, just, or one step at a time, kind of moving forward. There's so many benefits. Um, yay.
Thank you. Good night.
Katy Weber She Her (22:01.183)
Yay for walking. Now the other thing is, has your relationship with your phone changed at night too? Because that's another one I see a lot for how to get better sleep at night and wind down when you have ADHD. And it's like, spend an hour without your phone. And I don't know how to do that. I really struggle with that. Is that something? Do you have a nighttime ritual or something that works for you?
struggle with it too. What I have started doing is putting my phone in another room where it's out of reach. And I realize how addicted I am to my phone because I've been doing that because I'll put it away, I get into bed, I say no more phone for tonight. And as soon as I do that, I'm like, oh, you know, where's my phone? But it only lasts for 30 seconds and then...
Katy Weber She Her (22:53.167)
I'm like, okay, I can live without the phone. I've been looking at it for the last hour. I don't need, there's nothing on the phone that I need to look at right now. But it's definitely a struggle. And I related a lot to the alcohol, where I would tell myself I don't wanna have a drink and that cognitive dissonance where I would pour myself a drink anyway. And even though I had just five minutes ago I told myself I'm not gonna do it. So it just takes practice
ways to do something different. So I put it away, I put a book next to my bed or an article that I've been wanting to read and I'll do that instead. And it's made a big difference. I sleep a lot better because I could lay in bed for hours and not realize that I've been staring at my phone and it does or wake up in the middle of the night and instead of just letting myself fall back asleep, reaching for my phone at like three o'clock in the morning and looking at my phone.
for the rest of the night. And so I really had to make a concerted effort to do something about that because I do struggle with it too. But if it's out of reach, I am not getting out of bed to go get it. As much as I feel like I want to look at it, I am not getting out of bed. So.
Katy Weber She Her (23:57.63)
Katy Weber She Her (24:13.787)
No, that's a good point. All right. You've inspired me to just leave it in another room again. Um, I like the idea of having a magazine cause I find. No, I know. Right. Um, well, and I think, you know, you spoke to such an important part of an ADHD brain, which is the, like, we have a tendency to rebel against things if we're doing them for our own good, right? Like there is that demand avoidance part of us. That's like, don't tell me what to do. Right. So it's like.
It's hard. It will be calling your name.
Katy Weber She Her (24:41.543)
It's so tricky. You can't just do things because it's good for you. Like you have to really have many different nuanced layers in terms of the motivation to do something. And just being like, I've heard this is good for me is not gonna be enough. Cause I'm gonna, there's the rebel inside of me is gonna be like, well, no, screw you. I don't wanna do what's good for me. Oh, ADHD, so much fun.
Katy Weber She Her (25:06.82)
So I'm curious, so now you have, so you work with clients on kind of breaking the cycle with alcohol, but I think you also, you know, do more of like mindset, lifestyle coaching, right? Like what, what are some of the things you love working with, with your clients?
So what I love about the fact, well love, the fact that ADHD, people with, 25% of people who are struggling with substance abuse also have ADHD. Okay? Not that I love that, but we struggle with, well it probably is, 25% diagnosed with ADHD. So it's probably much more than that.
Katy Weber She Her (25:41.103)
It's gotta be more than that, I'm just saying. But... .. I don't... yeah.
But there are mindfulness-based relapse prevention practices and there are mindfulness-based awareness practices for ADHD. And they're so similar. So I work with clients to really use this mindfulness practice because that's the way we retrain our brain.
mindful walking and tapping meditation and you know being present and aware of the fact that I've been looking at my phone for two hours straight and I must put it in the other room now and go to bed like you know it's just being aware of your surroundings of your thoughts not judging them but like
So much of what we do is just automatic pilot, right? And we don't think about it. And we struggle with impulse control. And so if you just take the time to pause and to understand why you're doing the things you're doing, everything we do is to feel a certain way. And so how can we change the way we feel without...
negative unhealthy behaviors like drinking or doing drugs or overeating or whatever your drug of choice is, right? And it works whether or not you have ADHD, it's really helpful for people struggling with addiction. And whether or not you have addiction, it works really well for people with ADHD. But the combination of the two, it's like a double whammy. And it's really helpful in just reframing your beliefs about why you're doing these
unhealthy behaviors in the first place so you can choose something else.
Katy Weber She Her (27:47.711)
Oh my goodness, right? I think that is very well said. Thank you. Now you had mentioned, oh, I wanted to get back on the name of Mighty Rebel. What's the significance of that name? Where did it come from?
Well, you were just talking about it like we are rebels and I've always sort of seen myself as a rebel and Mighty somebody wants to describe me as mighty and I just thought I pictured like a remember mighty mouse the cartoon Superhero, I don't know. I don't know if you remember but I just pictured this like mighty rebel of me sort of rebelling because honestly, I think that
Katy Weber She Her (28:18.122)
Katy Weber She Her (28:20.841)
Yeah, of course.
Choosing not to drink in our alcohol saturated society is like the ultimate act of rebellion because you cannot leave your house without being bombarded with messages about how alcohol is so great and you need it for healthy social life and it relaxes you and you need it to have fun and you need it to go on dates and you need it to celebrate and you need it for everything. So to choose not to drink is pretty rebellious.
we are born rebels. I mean, we're cynical about society, we're, you know, fight against authority, we fight against the system. If we don't do it, you know, externally, we're certainly doing it internally, right? So I think that because I've always seen myself that way and because of my relationship with alcohol and having changed it, I just thought that that was the perfect name for my coaching practice.
Katy Weber She Her (29:28.299)
I love it. I knew there was going to be a good story behind that. But I totally forgot about Mighty Mouse. That really does age us, right? I guess he has it. I feel like he needs a renaissance. Cool. So getting back to the question, what are the things you love most about your ADHD?
Yeah, I know.
Um, what do I love most about it? I think what I love most about it is the fact that when I am determined to do something and I am interested in it, there is nothing that will stop me from doing it. And even though I have, you know, everything gets old after a while and we tend to lose interests in things, when I am interested in something, like if you ask me to do it
It gets done. If I want to accomplish it, I will figure out a way. So we're really resourceful. And I think that's one of one of the things I love about ADHD. Like when I finally was clearheaded and there was no alcohol in my system and I wanted to learn all I could about the link between ADHD and substance abuse, like that became my mission in life. And that's what I that's why I do what I do, because if I had had this guidance 10 years ago or
nine years ago when I was diagnosed, you know, who knows how, you know, life would have been different and, you know, we're all, I can't change the past and we're all on our journey and I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be now but I realized there was such a need for this because once I started talking about my struggles with addiction and my ADHD on social media, there were millions of people who...
heard what I said and like would say, oh my gosh, I feel seen for the very first time. So that's why now I'm so passionate about this and I just want people to know that like...
there's another way to exist in this world. And yes, we do have challenges when we have ADHD, but they are manageable. And if you set your intention that you want to live differently and you want to have a healthier life and you want to have coping strategies that actually work and to help you create the goals or help you achieve the goals that you want, there's a way to do it.
Katy Weber She Her (32:00.867)
Hmm. Yeah. Right. Um, the, oh gosh, shoot. I just, Oh, I had a thought and I lost it. Oh no. Oh, um, God, what, you're talking about, um, gosh, what was it? Oh man, I should have written it down. I'm usually very good about that. Uh, I think.
What do I love about ADHD? Um, the zone.
Katy Weber She Her (32:29.051)
Uh, well, you were talking about being resourceful and, um, Oh no, I know what it was. I think it's, you know, why so many of us turned to advocacy after our diagnosis, right? Which is because we sort of went through our lives with this feeling like we didn't quite fit feeling very confused by a lot of these symptoms, like feeling very just in the dark. And the diagnosis is so much clarity. It's so much information that is so
Katy Weber She Her (32:55.971)
helpful in terms of our life and how we pick up and move on, that then we're just like, oh my goodness, people need to know this. How could I help somebody? I can't relive my own life over again. But if I could just save somebody from dealing with what I had to deal with, it just feels so, we just so desperately want to help others not experience life the way we experienced it, or at least lesser, right? We get so passionate.
I can't relive my own life over again, but if I could just save somebody from...
Exactly. That's exactly it. Yes. Yes. Totally.
Katy Weber She Her (33:26.419)
Yeah. Now, I'm curious. I don't know if you ever went through, did you go through AI at all?
No, never. It was suggested to me to do that many times, but I just, I couldn't wrap my head around it because I, well, besides the religious piece of it, which I didn't really resonate with, you know, in AA, and again, you know, if it helps.
Katy Weber She Her (33:36.8)
people get sober and stay sober, I support it. But for me personally,
surrendering to a substance and saying that like it controls me and it like blaming blaming me as opposed to blaming the addictive substance that has been pushed on us since we are children and you know these marketers that are telling us like I was saying before it's like the most amazing thing that's that we need in our lives it's this magic elixir for every occasion and if you have a problem with it that's on you I just I could
never wrap my head around that. So no, I never went to a 12-step meeting. I just, I knew I had a problem with alcohol for many years and I knew I had to do something. I wasn't sure what. And then I just kind of experienced spontaneous sobriety. I woke up one day after telling myself for years that enough is enough. One day something shifted and I said, today's the day. And then I actually joined a support group after that, after the alcohol was out
It wasn't a 12-step, it was just like a group coaching support online.
Katy Weber She Her (35:12.771)
Hmm. Yeah, that's interesting that you mentioned that because I, I didn't do AA. I don't think I ever actually acknowledged that I was an alcoholic. I felt like I had a very complicated relationship with alcohol, but I was able to quit on my own. Um, and it was really, it was during the pandemic during lockdown because I wasn't going anywhere and I just stopped. We were, my husband and I were ordering wine by the case.
Katy Weber She Her (35:38.547)
And it was at that time, because we had so much of it in the house, because we were ordering everything, right? We weren't going anywhere. And then I was realizing I was drinking like multiple bottles in one night. And then I was like, I can't do this. So then I just was able to quit cold turkey because we weren't going anywhere. So I'm very grateful for lockdown in that way. But I will say that I've worked with so many clients who went through AA because many, you know, so many of us did have, do have, you know, complicated.
Thanks for watching!
Katy Weber She Her (36:08.299)
relationships with alcohol or were alcoholics or are alcoholics, I guess. Um, but really, really so many clients I've worked with had issues with exactly what you were talking about with AA, which is this idea that there were these fundamental, they're called defects of character, right? That there were these defects of character that we need to overcome. And that it was up to us to overcome those defects of character, which really sort of speaks to that neuro-typical
Katy Weber She Her (36:36.199)
you know, mindset or, you know, where we struggle is neurodivergence, where it's like, you just have to try harder, right? Like you, there's something fundamentally wrong with you and you just need to try harder and that we aren't able to do that. And so then we beat up ourselves that there's something wrong with us. And it really kind of, I feel like there is something in that programming, while it is, like you said, very successful for a lot of people, I think it is important to say, you know, this is not.
Katy Weber She Her (37:03.743)
necessarily very neurodivergent friendly in terms of this like lack of curiosity about what's causing the behaviors, right? To just assume that there's an innate defect in character, I feel like is really damaging. And so I haven't personally gone through it, but I've worked with enough women who have come out of it and been like, yeah, now that I'm diagnosed, I realized that that program was not helpful for the way I think and who I am.
Yeah, yeah. And the success rate isn't, it's low. So I mean, like again, it works for some people and so I'm supportive of it for those that it works for but it just never resonated with me. And...
I think that working on, instead of focusing on my character defects or whatever, and that I have some sort of disease that's just waiting for me to relapse, I decided as an individual that alcohol was hurting more than it was helping, and if I wanted my life to be better, I had to do something about it, and so I did.
is like the mutual support. And like for me, you know, I went six months without drinking, but it was very lonely. And I felt a lot of shame about all the years that I was drinking too much. And to have somebody, a group of people really, to talk to about it and to share your stories and to be able to be vulnerable releases a lot of that shame when you realize that you're not alone.
Katy Weber She Her (38:40.851)
That's a really good point. And I think that is something that is very important for us. As with neurodivergent thinking, which is the validation and acknowledgement that often comes in group experiences, that is so important for us to be like, there's nothing wrong with me. I am not the problem, right? And I think it really dispels a lot of the shame too around these behaviors. So can you tell me a little bit more about your group coaching program?
Yeah, so the program that I do right now, it's called Rebel Without a Drink. And basically we, it's mindfulness based and it's a small group and we're able to share, you know, why we're drinking.
you know, were we self-medicating? And a lot of the clients that I work with aren't necessarily formally diagnosed, but they just know that they have ADHD and they've been struggling with this. But again, to just, you know, to be able to learn some of these mindfulness practices. And, you know, I have a client that I call every day at four o'clock because he said that's his witching hour. And that's when he is like programmed in his mind to start drinking. And so we talk every day for two minutes
to just sort of reframe the thinking at that time. So it's like, it's just repetition and practicing new, healthier coping strategies, whether it's meditation, whether it's just a phone call, whether it's, you know, sharing stories, whether it's a reminder saying like, you know, go take a walk, whatever it is, having that mutual group support and being able to laugh at ourselves.
And being able to just release that guilt, that shame, that blame, is just so crucial in order to change our behavior. Because if we don't change, like, you know, our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings create our behavior. So we can change the behavior. We can put down the drink. But if we don't change the thoughts, the beliefs and the feelings that we have about it, it's really hard to stick to the behavior because willpower only lasts for so long.
Katy Weber She Her (40:54.392)
Right, yeah, very good point. So now I'm curious if you could rename ADHD. Do you have you thought about what you might call it?
I did. This was fun too. I spent some time thinking about this. Interest-based, abundant attention condition. I don't like the word disorder. So interest-based, abundant attention condition. It's a mouthful, but...
Katy Weber She Her (41:21.251)
I be a abundant way, abundant interest based.
Katy Weber She Her (41:31.875)
Oh, OK. I like it. I'm always curious what the acronym is. That's awesome. Right. Interest based is really good, too, I think, because, you know, one of the one of my complaints when I when I think about trying to come up with a new name is like, what is a name that I would have related to before my diagnosis? Right. Because I felt like I wouldn't have related to anything that referenced executive dysfunction or even like regulation. Right. Like those weren't terms that I was familiar with. Right. And so I'm always trying to figure like, what is it?
So, that's what I'm trying to say. Right? So, I'm just trying to figure out what I'm doing.
Katy Weber She Her (42:01.725)
term that's more accessible to people who don't have know what they're even struggling with, right? Or haven't made, you know, connected those dots. For me, it was like, I just was, you know, especially when it comes to some of the stuff like alcoholism or, or, you know, binge eating or some of the, like these chronic behaviors that many, many of us have, um, that just make us feel like we're trash humans, uh, for lack of a better word. So, uh, I like that interest-based one is good.
Right, right. Right, well, if I'm interested in something, I...
Sorry, there was a delay. The interest-based piece, it's like, again, I worked in a corporate job for many years and I just, I couldn't do the work. You know, like my boss would ask me to do something I couldn't do it unless I had even just a littlest bit of interest in it and then I was like a rock star. So I realized that so much of my life has been dictated by if I'm interested in it, I'm the best.
Katy Weber She Her (42:40.382)
And if I'm not interested in it, I can't do it at all. I won't do it. I don't know if I can't, but I won't.
Katy Weber She Her (43:13.975)
Hmm. Yeah, I know. Right. Um, absolutely. Awesome. Okay. So now how can people work with you and, and find you what's your website and, um, how can people reach out to you?
So for one-on-one coaching, my website is called amightyrebel.com. And then for my group program, it's called the Rebel Reboot. And it's a six week small group coaching program where we break that cycle of ADHD and alcohol. And it's...
Rubble Without a Drink. That's my handle for my social media on TikTok. TikTok, by the way, it's funny. I just started using TikTok about eight months ago and I had no idea that there was such a huge ADHD neurodivergent community on there and such a huge sober community. And I have really
for teenagers, you know, what am I doing on TikTok? But it has been so therapeutic for me and so many people have reached out to me that they resonate with my content. So Rebel Without a Drink on social media. You can find me on TikTok and Instagram. And all I talk about is ADHD and alcohol. And how to deal with both.
Katy Weber She Her (44:38.252)
Um, I'll make sure to put your Tik Tok. I'll make sure to put your Tik Tok link too, in the show notes. Uh, I know, right? Well with Tik Tok, it's funny cause I feel like we are like moths to a flame with that app because of the shared experiences, right? The lived experience, these quick vignette videos, like there's everything about the platform.
Katy Weber She Her (44:58.679)
that is so appealing to our brains. It's makes total sense to me that everybody who loves that app is also neurodivergent and that we all found each other. And I think it's amazing. And it's, you know, it's funny cause it's like my teenage daughter, she's 16. And I think it's been a wonderful influence on her as a neurodivergent teenager. But at the same time, like we have to set limits because it's also, you know, it becomes a black hole for her attention. But I really like, I really struggle with like.
So we're building to our brains to make sure we're going to make it every day before we have to. So it's not working. Mm-hmm. And it's funny because it's like, like.
I really like, I really struggle with like...
Katy Weber She Her (45:26.847)
should she or shouldn't she, because I think it's been so incredibly validating in terms of her mental health and her just, you know, um, knowing more about herself and who she is and coming up with like hacks for her executive dysfunction and all that. I just think it's such an amazing place. Uh, but at the same time, I'm like, all right, maybe you're on like hour four at this point. Maybe we need to like cut ourselves off. Um, so yeah.
Yeah, yeah, there's a fine line. It's hard to balance, but it's such a useful tool, especially as an adult. I don't have children, so I don't have to deal with that aspect of it, but I do, like I was saying before, I catch myself sometimes, an hour goes by, and even though it's been so informative, like, you know, I need to touch grass, as they say.
Katy Weber She Her (45:57.199)
Ha ha ha!
Katy Weber She Her (46:16.995)
Hmm. Right. Yeah. Yeah. I like that. Uh, well, thank you. Thank you so much, Jennifer has been really great hearing your story. I was taking your group project or your group coaching looks incredible. You really get to some of the meat, um, of ADHD just in terms of, you know, connecting a lot of those dots. So I feel like, um, yeah, I feel like so many people must benefit from that and should check it out. So thank you so much for, for sharing your own story and your time today.
Thank you so much Jennifer, it's really great hearing your story.
Thank you so much for watching.
Yes, thanks for having me, Katie. It was fun.